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Holed up in a Hurricane

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posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 10:18 AM
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When I was a kid back in the 60's my family used to spend quite a bit of time in southern Florida (south west Florida). SW Florida was pretty remote and undeveloped back in those days. In fact, where we used to go only had one hotel which doubled as the airport. We'd fly in and call the "tower", which was really the hotel front desk. They'd go out in a Jeep and block off the road and light these oil lamps we called "smudge pots" along the side. We'd circle until the got the lights set up then fly in and land right on the road, then taxi up to the hotel and park the plane right in the parking lot. (Heh, try to do that today!) We could just leave the plane there until we left, no charge.

At the time I was a big into fishing and collecting rare shells. The beaches were just full of shells then. My parents had a small condo on the island where we stayed. Over time I made friends with this older widowed gal who lived alone and also collected shells. The thing about shell collecting is, you have to know when to go out to collect the really good shells. You had to know the tides and the moon cycles as well, otherwise you'd just get the same old broken and barnacle encrusted shells everyone else did. The shells you really wanted were live shells, not dead ones which had been rolling around in the surf for weeks or months. We'd go out at all hours for these things.

One year, I want to say it was '66 or '67 we went to FL and the parents had to go someplace (Miami I think) for a week or so. So this gal I knew offered to let me stay with her (can't remember her name unfortunately). My parents were good with this so that was the plan. They took off and we went about collecting shells at all hours of the day, night and morning.

On a side note – I wrote another post over in the ‘Food’ forum about a recipe I’m searching for originally made by this gal named Ginny. I remember one of my only disappointments about staying with the gal I was staying with was that I wished it could have been Ginny as she was probably the end-all / be-all in the shell collecting world. This gal wasn’t Ginny, but perhaps a close 2nd.

Anyway, a hurricane had been brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico, but it was thought to be headed toward Texas when my parents left. Shortly after they left things changed and the hurricane changed course and headed for Florida. Over the next few days as the storm surge came up the shell collecting became phenomenal! We were getting shells that were only found in deep water, and lots of them. It was a shell collector’s bonanza. As the hours and days slipped by the island became a deserted ghost town with most of the people heading inland. (shrug) I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but we were staying behind to face whatever came (probably not a wise choice in retrospect, but I’d never been through a hurricane, so what did I know?).

I can remember a day or two before the hurricane was to hit it was time to baton down all the storm shudders and bring anything inside which could fly away. Then the power went out. From there it was just a waiting game, holed up in this tiny condo with furniture stacked everywhere. There was barely enough room to move around and with all the shudders shut is was dark the whole time. Everything was done by candle light, saving the flashlights for something really important. This gal did have one of those old oil lamps like you used to see on ships of old. It gave off pretty good light, but it made a hell of a mess with all the soot from the lamp. We used it only sparingly as needed for various things.

As a little kid, in some respects the whole experience was pretty scary (hence memorable), but in other ways it was also kind of fun and exciting. It was like being holed up in a fort, with nothing to do but what you made of it. I remember when the winds came up, the shudders whistled and rattled like nothing I’d ever seen before. The only rule was we couldn’t go outside, or even look. We’d hear things flying around and banging into the building, wondering what they were. The rain would come in sheets and you’d hear it just pouring down, water everywhere.

I remember one night, we were kind of bored (and scared at the same time). This gal went rummaging around through her closet and pulled out this plastic model kit of a plane. She said she’d bought it for her grandson, but she hadn’t seen him for years and he probably wouldn’t want it now anyway. Said we could put it together if I liked. I was big into models then so I eagerly accepted, and we set about putting this model together by the light of the lamp. It was a four engine Constellation, and it came out pretty darn good considering.

When we woke up the next day it was calm. This gal said it must have been the eye of the hurricane, but I wasn’t so sure. As it turned out, the main thrust of the hurricane hadn’t actually hit were we were directly but just glanced off the island and actually made full landfall further north along the west coast. After a while we could finally open the door and look outside. Wow, what a mess! There was stuff everywhere, standing water about a foot deep in most places. It was pretty crazy.

“So what are we gonna’ do now?” I asked. She grinned and said, “Well, I guess we’ll go down to the beach and see what shells we can find...just like always!” And that’s just exactly what we did too! To this day I still have some of the fantastic shells we found after that storm. They’re stored in a box somewhere, all boiled out and lacquered to preserve their original colors. It's like the old story, sometimes when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

My memory of being holed up in a hurricane.

edit on 10/13/2017 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 10:26 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

And mom and dad couldn't just call you on the cell phone to make sure you were all right. While I bet you enjoyed it to a degree, they were probably a bit concerned. Great story and as always, well told.



posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 10:48 AM
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a reply to: network dude

Heh, nope, there weren't any stinking cell phones back in those days!

You know, I figured it would probably be weeks before I saw them. All the bridges were closed and the roads were blocked from trees down. The power was off for a couple weeks. When I finally did see them again it wasn't like this tearful reunion really. Yeah, I guess they might have worried some, but that was just kind of how it was then, we were pretty independent and self-sufficient. I figured they'd show up sooner or later, and me and my friend, the old widow, made due until they did show up...sooner or later.

ETA...I wasn't sure if the plane got damaged, or how bad the storm (if any) had hit where they were. Turns out the plane was none the worse for wear really. And they showed up once they had the road clear enough to land. I guess it was a few days or so.







edit on 10/13/2017 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 11:05 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Nice.



posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 12:38 PM
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Your stories are wonderful, some how they bring back childhood memories for me,
please keep them coming.



posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 02:30 PM
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a reply to: Nickn3

I guess I'm just a kid at heart...well partly anyway.



posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 05:54 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

cool story thanks for sharing!



posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 08:02 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

What a neat story! Sounds like a very cool experience, danger and all, and nice to have some memories, in the form of the shells! This is the sort of experience you write up in a book, or something, to preserve for later!



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